Summary: Instead of downgrading our theology to match our experience we need to upgrade our experience to match our theology.
A Course in Miracles: Believing 201
Pastor Mark Batterson
This evotional continues the series titled A Course in Miracles. Last week’s evotional was on seeking 101. Next week’s evotional will be on waiting 301. This week’s evotional focuses on believing 201. To check out old evotionals, visit the evotional archive @ www.theaterchurch.com.
Let me put a frame around this series. I just finished reading through the gospels and you can’t help but notice the sheer quantity of miracles that happened. Sure, they were spread out over a three year period during Jesus’ ministry. But I think most of us would be happy if we experienced one miracle in three years. Now juxtapose that with what Jesus said in John 14:12: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” That would be amazing enough if Jesus had stopped right there. But he adds an amendment. Jesus says, “He will do even greater things than these.”
So here is what I realized at the end of my journey through the gospels: there is a gap between my theology and my reality. I believe John 14:12, but I’m not there yet. There is a pretty big gap between what I believe and what I experience. And I’m praying that God would close the gap.
Here is the mistake many of us make: we make our theology conform to our reality. You have probably heard of the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson could not intellectually digest the miracles in the gospels so he extracted them. Everything that was left he compiled into his own version of the Bible called the Jefferson Bible. It’s a miracle-less Bible.
There are a couple problems with that. First off, to think that the God who created the universe can’t do miracles is absolutely illogical. Secondly, it’s what I’d call cut-and-paste Christianity. We take what we want and discard what we don’t. There is one problem with that: it’s all-or-nothing. We have to accept God on God’s terms! By the way, those who practice cut-and-paste Christianity end up with a god (small g) who looks an awful lot like them! They have simply created a god in their own image. Their theology has conformed to their reality!
Now here’s the thing. Part of us says, “I can’t believe Thomas Jefferson would have the gall to do what he did.” But most of us do exactly what he did. We don’t physically cut the miracles out of the Bible, but we ignore them or explain away why we aren’t experiencing them in our lives.
Can I make an observation? We tend to ignore the things we haven’t experienced. Here’s why: the gap between our theology and our reality causes angst. The bigger the gap the worse we feel. So we tend to ignore the gifts of the Spirit if we haven’t experienced them. We tend to ignore passages about prayer if we aren’t praying. We tend to steer clear of passages that deal with our particular strand of sin. It’s human nature. And very subtlety and subconsciously here is what happens: our theology conforms to our reality instead of our reality conforming to our theology. We water-down or dumb-down the truth. We downgrade our theology when we should upgrade our reality.
This series of evotionals is about upgrading our reality. It’s about closing the gap between our reality and our theology. And that involves a lot of seeking, a lot of believing, and a lot of waiting.
It Not Take Off
We took the kids to the air and space museum a couple weeks ago and there was a ten-foot cross-section of an American Airlines Douglas DC7 airplane that you can board walk through. As we were walking toward the entrance I noticed a concerned look on our three year-old Josiah’s face. I said, “Do you want to see the airplane, Josiah?” He said, “It not take off?” By the way, all day Josiah kept asking me if stuff was going to take off.
It’s hard to explain, but Lora and I marveled at his childlike perspective. It was a ten-foot cross section. It was inside the air and space museum. There wasn’t an engine. No runway. And Josiah thought it might take off! Here is the beauty of childhood: you don’t know what can’t happen. That’s not a bad definition of faith. You know you have faith when you don’t know what can’t happen!
When the disciples started following Jesus I don’t think they had any idea what to expect. At the end of those three years they saw Jesus do so many wild and wacky miracles that they didn’t know what couldn’t happen. And because they didn’t know what he couldn’t do, God did some amazing things!